Baked Mac & Cheese Pizza
- Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (see recipe below)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 8 ounces small elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 16 ounces shredded sharp cheddar (4 cups)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 12 crushed Ritz crackers (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Makes 1 (12-inch) pizza, serves 4
Make the pizza dough at least 12 hours ahead. Rest the dough on the counter until it comes to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Make the Mac and Cheese: Spray a 10-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Boil 4 quarts water with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander set in the sink, and transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the dry mustard, paprika, and pepper and stir continuously until a paste forms. Add the milk and stir continuously until smooth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Stir 1/4 cup of the sharp cheddar into the thickened sauce and keep stirring until it is smooth and melted.
Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and stir until it is all well combined. Scrape half of the mac and cheese into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar. Pour the rest of the mac and cheese on top and pat it down to form a cake. Chill for 1 hour.
Move an oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 500 F for 30 minutes. Shape the dough and place it on the screen, according to the instructions below. Sprinkle with the mozzarella, cheddar, and Romano. Use a metal spatula to loosen the mac and cheese cake from the pan. Turn the pan over
and carefully transfer the mac and cheese cake to a plate. Slide the mac and cheese onto the middle of the pizza, and top with the crushed crackers.
Bake the pizza for about 13 minutes, until the crust is deep brown and the mac and cheese is bubbling. Check underneath with a metal spatula to ensure the bottom crust is deep brown too. Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the chives, then cut the pizza into 8 wedges and serve.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Makes enough dough for 1 (12-inch) pizza crust
Some whole wheat pizzas are heavy, and maybe you’ve tried them without success. Now you can relax and enjoy this one. The ratio of whole wheat to regular flour is higher than most, yet this dough makes a crust so tender and light that you can substitute it for any of the pizzas in this cookbook. If you want more whole grains and fiber in your diet, this crust is a good way to feel better about eating your favorite food. Whole wheat flour has a toasty, nutty flavor. It’s brown because it contains the entire wheat germ. I recommend King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill brands. Usually blended with all-purpose flour, whole wheat is too heavy
on its own and won’t rise much, causing dense dough. I add white cornmeal, preferably Quaker brand, for crunch. You can also use cornmeal beneath a pizza on the peel for greater sliding capability.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white cornmeal
1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray
Make this dough up to 3 days ahead. Let it come to room temperature for about 1 hour before using. Note that this crust takes less time to bake than some other crusts, about 12 minutes, so watch it carefully toward the end to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Place the flours, water, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the cornmeal, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low to combine, about 2 minutes.
Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. Add the salt, then knead the dough on medium speed for about 6 minutes, until the dough is firm, sticky, and supple. It will be soft, smooth, and shiny. If the dough seems too dry, add 1 or 2 teaspoons water.
Pour the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil into a medium bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Turn the dough to coat it with the oil. This prevents a crust from forming on its surface as it rises. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in the refrigerator for about 12 hours. It will double in volume. Rest the dough on the counter until it comes to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Get the Dough in Shape
Stretch the Dough Lightly flour a clean, dry countertop. Gently place the round of dough on your counter. Do not knead or press on it. Instead, let it settle. Dust the top with flour. Make dimples in the dough with your fingertips by pressing down in the middle to stretch it out. Move the dough around in a circle as you continue to press down with your fingertips. A 1-inch rim should occur naturally. Press your fingertips along the inside of the rim, moving in a circle. Place your hands on the dough, fingers up against the rim, and push out while turning in a circle. Add more flour, if necessary, to ensure the dough slides easily.
Pick up the dough to finish stretching it out. Slide your hands underneath it and pick it up. Let the dough fall around your hands to stretch it. Keep your hands along the edges, rather than in the middle. The dough should be 12 inches in diameter, unless otherwise specified.
Place the Dough on the Pan or Screen
Spray a 14-inch pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray and place it next to the shaped dough. Quickly pick up the shaped dough while sliding it onto the screen. Reshape as necessary. Your whole wheat dough is now ready for the pizza toppings.
Excerpted from The United States of Pizza by Craig Priebe with Dianne Jacob, Rizzoli New York, 2015. Images by Jeff Kauck.